Sadly big comfortable sedans are about as popular these days as a new Nickelback album or The Dixie Chicks at a Texas veterans fundraiser.
Too bad because as passé as big sedans are, they can move a family of five in smooth, quiet comfort and also beat the exhaust pipes off a big SUV or Crossover for gas mileage. This week’s test car, a beautiful Parisian Night Pearl (dark metallic blue) Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a sparkling example.
The Avalon does basically everything well. Its ride is near perfect, comfortable and well controlled. This is no floaty boat as in olden days when sedans seemed to ooze down the highway. Avalon’s four-wheel independent suspension handles rough roads with ease. Yet the car is responsive enough to feel well connected to the road.
Steering is on the light side in the car’s normal setting, but switch it to Sport and steering effort is firmed enough to feel more like a luxury sport sedan without requiring six-pack abs.
That Sport setting, engaged via a button on the console, also brings to life the silky smooth 2.0-liter I4 that’s coupled with a hybrid system that powers an electric motor at low speeds when gas engines are at their least efficient. Like other hybrids that electric power comes from batteries that are juiced up by a regenerative braking system. Continue reading 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium→
I’ve always liked Mazda vehicles because they look and drive a little sportier than most brands that us average middle class folks can afford.
That’s why I’m disappointed with the new Mazda CX-9, the large sport-utility/crossover I just tested. It only delivers on half the equation. It still looks a bit sportier than its competition, models like the boxy Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, but handling wasn’t up to Mazda standards.
My dark metallic gray CX-9 did have a new grille, less smiley and cartoonish than the previous model, but with a nose that still looks sleeker in profile than most large crossovers, sort of a tall sport wagon look. And its interior feels high-brow and is well finished. Plus this was the Grand Touring with all-wheel-drive, so it was loaded with electronic goodies.
But here’s the deal. I expect more responsive steering from a Mazda and, sorry to say, this just felt like other large sport-utes or crossovers. Steering is extremely light, but not as responsive as I felt in the last CX-9 I drove. It feels a bit vague with more wheel play than I had expected from past experience. That leads to a bit of lane wander on the highway. Continue reading 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD→
To look at Mazda’s MX-5 Miata you’d think little has changed since its introduction nearly 25 years ago.It’s still the quintessential two-seater, a sports car for the ages with a simple layout, simple lines, simple controls and for today’s market, a simple price tag.
The base Sport with a soft convertible top goes for $23,470, but the tested Special Edition with a power hardtop lists at $31,225. Add in the $795 destination charge and you’re looking at $32,020, not an economy car, but there aren’t many convertibles available in this price range anymore.
Yet Miata is a pleasant mixture of change and stability. The petit, some might call it cute, styling has been cleaned up a touch through the years, so now it reflects a bit more crispness, like the former Honda S2000 roadster. Continue reading 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata→
Diecast Car: Autoart’s Stealth LeMans winning Mazda a stunner
Reviewed by Mark Savage
The 24 Hours of LeMans is just behind the Indianapolis 500 in longevity, notoriety and importance in the racing world. Long a bastion of success for European sports car makers, the likes of Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Peugeot and Ferrari, the 1991 race will always be remembered as the year a Japanese make, Mazda, finally won the title. After 13 years of trying, Mazda won with its beautiful rotary-engine powered 787B. The winning drivers were Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler, all former Formula 1 drivers. Continue reading Diecast cars: Autoart’s Stealth LeMans winning Mazda→